Hangin' With ... G2 Strategic Owner & CEO Marshall Glickman

October 30, 2015  |  Sports Business Journal

MARSHALL GLICKMAN is the owner & CEO of G2 Strategic, which aims to help its clients increase revenue in the face of new challenges. Glickman's boutique consulting firm launched a European division in September following a contract extension with the French Football League (LFP). In France, G2's local associate is Marseille, France-based Antony Thiodet. Glickman is the former president of the NBA Portland Trail Blazers and also worked for the NBA's league office in the mid-'80s. His experience in Europe dates back to '02, where he was a full-time consultant to Euroleague Basketball from '02-04 before founding G2 Strategic later in '04. His company currently has official relationships with both the LFP and the Euroleague, and he said he devotes about 80% of his time to work with European clients. He spoke with SBD Global about the challenges facing European clubs, the landscape in France and Spain and the future of G2 Strategic.

On some of the differences between sports business practices in the U.S. and Europe...
Marshall Glickman: We're trying to introduce what to sports executives in the United States might seem kind of basi at this point, in Europe, much of this is radical change. So my job is to be a change agent. And I'm finding that the market for that, the people that are open to that, is increasing. That's the reason I launched a European business: I work in Europe and have worked in Europe extensively, but I'm trying to put more of a brand around it and kind of formalize my participation there, including making sure that I've identified to the market that I have a colleague [Thiodet] who's there, who speaks French, who can meet with them face-to-face as needed. And I'm there very often as well.

On how France hosting Euro 2016 could impact the LFP ...
Glickman: As a result of that, something like six or seven stadiums were remodeled, I mean massively remodeled, or are brand new stadiums with higher capacities. It has, frankly, exacerbated the challenge because you have clubs that are only generating 50% or 60% occupancy today, and now you're adding 10,000 seats, or something like that. So the supply and demand equation is really out of whack, and that's something I'm trying to address with many of th clubs. Which means that part of the strategy to increase demand is to reduce supply. But that's not easy to deal with in the face of what's happening with these stadiums, because these are publicly financed stadiums and it's not going to be easy to build these big things for a two-week tournament and then turn around and cut seats. But that's something I've talked to many clubs about and the league about very openly.

On the recently passed law changing the distribution of TV revenue in La Liga ...
Glickman: That is a clear step in the right direction. Several of the leagues are beginning to take steps in the right direction. That is certainly one step in the right direction. But at the same time, they also have to take steps to begin t limit what clubs can spend. It's one thing to fill people's pockets, but a lot of these clubs are losing money. This newfound TV money may do nothing more for some clubs than sort of balance out the losses. Now, what do they do to balance out the losses? They basically sell players. They go to the transfer market. That's how you balance your budget every year. That's not, in the long run, in my opinion, a sustainable model.

On the importance of a safe gameday atmosphere ...
Glickman: If you're going to reach out to young adults, and women, and businesspeople, and families, you have to have safe, secure stadiums. In England, they've just rid themselves of the hard-core, extreme hooliganism that has famously happened before. I've gone to several games in the U.K. in the last few years, and, yes, there is security there, but they do it in a very polite, English way. They stay back, they don't make it feel like the riot police are there, but their presence is known and they do not welcome people that cross lines. ... But in certain markets, that's still out there, that feeling of, 'I wouldn't go there with my kid.' We're trying to address that, too. I'm not providing security expertise, but I do know that there's a way to handle security, and there's certain policies that you have to have toward these supporters groups. In many cases, that's very, very hard to implement with many clubs, because they'v been relying on these supporters groups for decades.

On the impact he believes G2 Strategic can have on clubs with limited resources ...
Glickman: I would say I'm cautiously optimistic. There's going to be failures, and we have to accept that, and I'm OK with that. Not all clubs are going to be able to pull it off. Sometimes they're going to try and things aren't going to work and that's OK too. What I'm trying to do is convince them to try. They've got to try to do things differently than they've been doing them for the last 50 years, or nothing's going to change. What we're really doing, and I think this is a good strategy, is we're finding that certain clubs and certain presidents are more open than others. So that's great. So we're focusing more of our time, a disproportionate amount of our time, on those that are open. It takes time, but we're using those clubs and the successes that they begin to have as case studies, as examples for the other clubs. Ultimately the culture will shift, because ultimately there's going to be young people coming into these executive positions who have a more worldly view.